Frenchman's Creek


1h 53m 1944
Frenchman's Creek

Brief Synopsis

A British noblewoman flees the life of the court to run off with a French pirate.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Historical
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 20 Sep 1944
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier (Garden City, NY, 1942).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 53m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10,121ft

Synopsis

In 1668, in London, Dona St. Columb, who is bored with city life, leaves her husband Harry when he refuses to acknowledge, and protect her from, the lecherous advances of his friend, Lord Rockingham. Dona takes her two children to Harry's ancestral home on the coast of Cornwall, where she is surprised to find only William, a servant unfamiliar to her. Dona laughs at her neighbor, Lord Godolphin, when he warns her of the treacherous French pirates who have been raiding the homes along the coast, but she is then kidnapped and taken to a pirate ship, La Mouette , that has dropped anchor in her own cove. Dona is thrilled by the presence of the pirate captain, who is known to her only as "The Frenchman," and invites him to her home for dinner. Although she is aware that Godolphin is forming a vigilante group to capture the pirates, Dona accepts The Frenchman's invitation to sail with him, and she leaves her children in the care of William. Wearing men's clothing, Dona narrowly escapes capture when she helps The Frenchman steal a French schooner laden with goods from Godolphin's cousin. Dona and The Frenchman fall in love, and when she finally returns home, she discovers that Harry and Rockingham have arrived to help Godolphin capture the pirates. William has covered for Dona's absence by telling her husband that she was sick in bed and could allow no visitors, and on Dona's urging, William goes to warn The Frenchman to set sail immediately. William delivers his message, but is shot in the arm by vigilantes, and returns to Dona to tell her that La Mouette will not be able to sail until midnight. That night, vigilantes gather at Dona's house for dinner, and she tries to detain them past midnight. The Frenchman and his men unexpectedly take the party hostage, and Rockingham becomes suspicious when he sees the loosely concealed familiarity between Dona and The Frenchman. The Frenchman bids farewell to his lady and, after the pirates make their escape, Rockingham jealously tries to force himself on Dona, who kills him in self-defense. The vigilantes, meanwhile, engage in battle with the pirates. The Frenchman allows himself to be captured in order to save his ship, but the ship stays nearby and Dona helps him escape from prison. Dona is tempted to leave her dull life to join The Frenchman, but chooses instead to remain with her husband and children, and The Frenchman sails away.

Cast

Joan Fontaine

Dona St. Columb

Arturo De Córdova

The Frenchman, Jean Benoit Aubery

Basil Rathbone

Lord Rockingham

Nigel Bruce

Lord Godolphin

Cecil Kellaway

William

Ralph Forbes

Harry St. Columb

Harald Ramond

Edmond

Billy Daniels

Pierre Blanc

Moyna Macgill

Lady Godolphin

Patricia Barker

Henrietta

David James

James

Mary Field

Prue

David Clyde

Martin, the coachman

Charles Coleman

Thomas, the footman

Paul Oman

Luc

Arthur Gould-porter

Thomas Eustick

Evan Thomas

Robert Penrose

Leslie Denison

John Nankervis

Denis Green

Philip Rashleigh

George Kirby

Doctor Williams

David Thursby

Ostler

Lauri Beatty

Alice

Ronnie Rondell

Member of pirate crew

George Barton

Member of pirate crew

Victor Romito

Member of pirate crew

Robert Clarke

Member of pirate crew

Allen Pinson

Member of pirate crew

Patrick Desmond

Member of pirate crew

Jimmy Dime

Member of pirate crew

Harvey Easton

Member of pirate crew

Henry Escalante

Member of pirate crew

Art Foster

Member of pirate crew

Vincent Gironda

Member of pirate crew

Jacques Karre

Member of pirate crew

John Latito

Member of pirate crew

Rube Schaffer

Member of pirate crew

Sammy Stein

Member of pirate crew

Armand Tanny

Member of pirate crew

Fred Kohler Jr.

Member of pirate crew

John Roy

Member of pirate crew

Neal Clisby

Member of pirate crew

Noble Blake

Member of pirate crew

Constance Worth

Woman in gaming house

Phyllis Barry

Womam in gaming house

Edward Cooper

Croupier

Bob Stevenson

Guard in jail

Alfred George Ferguson

Guard in jail

Charles Irwin

Jailer

Frank Hagney

Cournishman

Gordon Richards

Guest

Boyd Irwin

Guest

David Cavendish

Guest

Leyland Hodgson

Guest

Kenneth Hunter

Guest

Arthur Mulliner

Guest

Keith Hitchcock

Watchman

Leonard St. Leo

Pirate

Jerry James

Alice Kirby

Louise La Planche

Charles Mayon

Fred Nay

Marcella Phillips

Hal Rand

Albert Ruiz

Audrey Westphall

Betty Walker

Crew

Fred Alles

Propmaker

Julio Alonso

Wardrobe man

B. Ambler

Transportation misc

Marion Bach

Script clerk, 3rd unit

George Barnes

Director of Photography

Martin Baumeister

Grip

Russell Bennett

Composer

Fred Bergamo

Propmaker

Raoul Pène Du Bois

Costume Design

Nick Borgani

Stand-in

Richard Brandow

Props

Vincent Bratton

Grip

C. Brenner

Makeup misc

Thad Brooks

Technicolor Camera tech

Robert Brower

Associate (Color)

Arnold Brown

Service recorder

F. Busselles

Transportation misc

F. Carroll

Grip

Harold Clemens

Projectionist

Herb Coleman

1st Assistant Director

William Collins

Grip

Sam Comer

Set Decoration

Irving Cooper

Script clerk

Hazel Croft

Hair

Lonnie D'orsa

Assistant prod Manager

Claude Debussy

Composer

Jack Degolconda

Props

B. G. Desylva

Executive Producer

H. Detter

Makeup misc

Carmen Dirigo

Hair

George Dockstader

Stunt double

Don Donaldson

Makeup Artist

Leonard Doss

Technicolor color control

C. Dowhen

Transportation misc

Hans Dreier

Art Director

Farciot Edouart

Process Photography

Capt. Fred Ellis

Tech adv for sailing ships

E. Farmer

Transportation misc

Ernst Fegté

Art Director

Lyle Figland

Boom Operator

Lila Finn

Stunt double

Bud Fraker

Stills

Dwight Franklin

Tech adv for pirates

Jack Fugua

Technicolor Assistant Camera

W. Gaisford

Electrician

Cecil Gardiner

Grip

M. Gardner

Electrician

Charles Gemora

Makeup Artist

Maurice Goodman

Props

Robert Goodstein

Props

Steven Green

Propmaker

Hilda Grenier

Fashion tech adv

J. Grindstaff

Electrician

Al Grosser

Operations

Hazel Haggerty

Wardrobe woman

Wesley Haight

Generator op

Grace Harris

Wardrobe woman

Charles Head

Fencing double

J. Helman

Electrician

Ray Herrick

Driver

B. Hijbal

Seamstress

F. Hijbal

Tailor

George Hill

Stand-in

Warren Hoag

Electrician

Harry Hogan

2d Assistant Director

Walter Huber

Bird men

W. Hurley

Stock Supervisor

Andrew Jack

Propmaker

Gordon Jennings

Special Photography Effects

Talbot Jennings

Screenwriter

Don Johnson

Sound Recording

C. L. Jones

Propmaker

Clem Jones

1st Assistant Director, 3rd unit

Natalie Kalmus

Technicolor color Director

Mme. [barbara] Karinska

[Cost] executed by

Frank Kauffman

Grip

C. Kelly

Grip

Charles Kelly

Grip

Howard Kelly

Gaffer

J. H. Kerr

Bird men

Robert King

Technicolor Assistant Camera

H. Kraft

Makeup misc

F. Kral

Grip

Roy Larson

Grip

Jack Leffman

Grip

Mitchell Leisen

Company

David Lewis

Associate Producer

Harold Lierly

Makeup Artist

Phyllis Loughton

Dial coach

Alma Macrorie

Editing

Louis Madsen

Propmaker

G. Mahoney

Electrician

Nellie Manley

Women's hair

John Mari

2d Assistant Director

T. Mcirvin

Wrangler

Donald Mckay

Sound Recording

Richard Mcwhorter

1st Assistant Director

John Meehan

Art Director, Assistant

Harry Merland

Camera Operator

Otto Metzetti

Stunt double

Jim Moore

Draperyman

Cecil Myers

Technicolor Camera loader

Aldo Nadi

Tech adv and instructor for fencing scenes

Aldo Nadi

Fencing double, double for Arturo de Cordova and Ralph Forbes

W. Newman

Grip

D. Norton

Transportation misc

John Nostri

Grip

Olaf Oleson

Propmaker

Webb Overlander

Makeup Artist

George Parrish

Orchestration

Allen Pinson

Double

Bud Pope

Wrangler

Adolph Prautsch

Technicolor Camera mech

William Rabb

Wardrobe man

James Ratsonas

Driver

A. Reid

Electrician

Rennie Renfro

Dog trainer

Charles W. Robbins

Transportation misc

I. Roberts

Camera misc

Victor Romito

Double for Leslie Denison

Pierre De Ronsard

Composer

Leonora Sabine

Hair Supervisor

Troy Sanders

Composer

Joe Schuster

Best boy

Jack Semple

Stunt double

Venicia Severn

English coach

Ralph E. Shenk

Driver

J. Sherman

Electrician

W. Sherman

Transportation misc

Leo Shuken

Orchestration

Harry Smith

P.A. operator

Kenneth Smith

Grip

B. Snodgrass

Electrician

Capt. Somers

Double for Nigel Bruce

G. Spicer

Electrician

Paul Stader

Stunt double

F. Steiner

Electrician

Eleanor Stewart

Double for Joan Fontaine

Syd Street

Unit Manager

Karl Struss

1st Camera, 3rd unit

Paul Stuart

Driver

Walter E. Sullivan

Generator op

Ken Swartz

Set dresser, Assistant

Dick Talmadge

Stunt double

T. Tedford

Transportation misc

H. Thompson

Grip

Henry Trigg

Wrangler

Fred True

1st grip

Fred Turk

Props

T. Vash

Electrician

Ben Wallace

Dog man

Bill Wallace

Operations

James M. Walters

Props

Jack Warren

Camera Operator

Paul Way

Grip

Paul Weddell

Technicolor Camera tech

Paul Weddell

Camera misc

Russ Welch

Transportation misc

Wally Westmore

Makeup Artist

A. White

2d Assistant Director

William White

In charge of movement

J. Willharber

Transportation misc

Pat Williams

Wardrobe

John Woolfenden

Pub

Lothrop Worth

Camera Operator

Cecil Wright

Camera

Victor Young

Music Score

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Historical
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 20 Sep 1944
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier (Garden City, NY, 1942).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 53m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10,121ft

Award Wins

Best Art Direction

1944

Articles

Frenchman's Creek


At first glance, Frenchman's Creek seems like an old-fashioned romantic adventure with glossy production values and melodramatic performances. Shot in the bright hues of Technicolor, the film makes ample use of glamorous costumes and large-scale sets to recreate 17th century England. However, the film represents the combination of two artistic visions, which suggests there is more than meets the eye. Daphne du Maurier wrote the original novel on which the film is based, and director Mitchell Leisen interpreted it for the big screen.

Set in 1668, Frenchman's Creek follows the adventures of Dona St. Columb, an English aristocrat who grows weary of her husband's folly and the unwanted advances of Lord Rockingham. An elaborately coiffed Joan Fontaine stars as spirited Lady Dona. She retreats from the decadence of life in London to Navron, her country home in Cornwall. She discovers that her crafty caretaker, played by Cecil Kellaway, is covering for a local pirate, who has been staying at Navron in Dona's absence.

The countryside is abuzz with the exploits of the pirate, known only as the Frenchman. Lord Godolphin, played by Nigel Bruce, excitedly tells Dona that "women sleep in fear of their lives--and not only their lives." Instead of feeling panic at the implications of his warning, Dona smiles. While strolling through the forest along the cove, she is kidnapped by one of the Frenchman's crew and taken to his ship. Dona enters his cabin, curious to find the handsome pirate preoccupied with sketching. Played by Mexican star Arturo de Cordova, the Frenchman is devilishly handsome and refined in taste and manner. Dona and the Frenchman discover they are kindred spirits. Both desire freedom: Dona wants to escape the confines of her aristocratic life; the Frenchman seeks the autonomy of the open sea. Smitten with the promise of romance and freedom, Dona dons trousers and a cap to join the pirate on his adventures as his "cabin boy." Upon her return to Navron, she discovers her husband has arrived, accompanied by the wicked Lord Rockingham. Dona fears her masquerade and secret adventures will be exposed.

Frenchman's Creek was one of those productions where the behind-the-scenes turmoil overshadowed the final film. Budgeted at $3,600,000, it was Paramount's most expensive film to date, but the budget was clearly seen on the screen in the lavishness of the sets and costumes. It was shot on location in Mendocino, Albion, and Ft. Bragg, California, with a cast and crew of 250. A small tent city with its own water and sewer system was set up to feed and shelter cast and crew during the long days of shooting. Little River doubled as Frenchman's Creek, and a road had to be cut around a cliff in order to get to the location. The 17th-century village of Fowey was only one of the 46 sets that had to be constructed, while propmaster Dick Brandow and his nine-man team secured over 2000 historical props. Over 1000 of them were constructed by Paramount's prop shop, including a clavichord and a horse-drawn coach made of hand-tooled leather. Some of the rooms of the large sets were dressed with pieces purchased from William Randolph Hearst, known for his enormous collection of materials from historic homes. Hearst had been selling pieces from his collection since the late 1930s in order to pay off creditors.

The Frenchman's ship, La Mouette, was recycled from one of the ships used in Cecil B. DeMille's Reap the Wild Wind. After building a new hull, the 110-foot ship was towed 35 miles to San Pedro Harbor then hauled 600 miles by barge to the location. After location shooting was complete, part of the ship was dismantled for dialogue scenes shot on the Paramount sound stages. (According to Internet sources, the rest of the ship was either set on fire by vandals or donated to the Coast Guard for target practice. Another story maintains that years later a local historian found the remains of the Hollywood ship and thought he had uncovered an authentic 17th century vessel.)

Wally Westmore of the legendary makeup dynasty crafted 150 wigs for the film. Their lavishness was surpassed only by the costumes designed by Raoul Pene du Bois. Madame Karinska is credited with the construction of the costumes, but, according to production designer Ernst Fegte, director Mitchell Leisen had a lot to do with their look and creation. Leisen, a costumer and set designer in the silent era, knew how clothing was put together in the 17th century, and he assembled some of the costumes himself, changing the designs in the process. Fontaine's 18 costumes were the most elaborate, with some dresses measuring 600 inches around the bottom and weighing 30 pounds.

. Leisen's experience as a costume and set designer influenced his work as a director. Detractors criticized his love of décor and visuals, claiming they took precedence over character and performance, but that is an unfair criticism. As with the work of all directors who are visually driven, there is a strategy and meaning to the visual design of Leisen's films. The color and style of Fontaine's costumes change from frilly, oversized gowns in sweet pastels to sleek dresses in deep reds and golds. The evolution in color and style parallels her passionate awakening with the Frenchman. Dona's doltish husband, Harry St. Columb (played by Ralph Forbes), is overdressed in loud tunics with pantaloon-like trousers, bringing to mind the look of a dandy or fool. The costume matches the character's frivolous, foppish persona. In contrast, the Frenchman's masculinity and Dona's attraction to him is signaled through his costume. The Frenchman is shirtless under a short-waisted coat, his hairy chest apparent and appealing to Dona as she gazes at him.

. Unfortunately, Fontaine and de Cordova did not get along well, and they exhibit little chemistry onscreen. As a matter of fact, Fontaine alienated all the male actors in the cast, though perhaps it was because their collective male pride took a blow when she declared that the success of the film rested entirely on her shoulders. Fontaine also did not care for Leisen, dismissing him as a director "mostly known for his musicals," which is not true. Her disregard for the director seems ungracious considering he brought out a playful side to the actress, giving her character a sensuality that is uncharacteristic.

Scholars and biographers have generally ignored Leisen, except for a 1973 biography by David Chierichetti. Inevitably, those who do examine his films bring up his bisexuality. It is always problematic and potentially misleading to look for clues to a director's personal life in his films, but Leisen did seem to understand the conventions for depicting gender roles, and he became adept at reversing them (Take a Letter, Darling; No Time for Love). Dona's desire to escape the confines of her role as an aristocrat's wife, combined with the freedom she experiences in her disguise as a male, can be interpreted as a commentary on the limitations of gender expectations. Likewise Dona's disguise as a cabin boy and her simultaneous passion of a highly masculinized pirate offers a provocative subtext.

In this regard, Leisen's interpretation of the narrative is in sync with du Maurier's. The daughter of actor and matinee idol Gerald du Maurier, Daphne had expressed her desire to be a boy as a child. In adulthood, she experienced her own gender confusion. She eventually married despite attractions to both men and women, declaring regretfully that she had "put the boy in a box." When du Maurier was a child, the family bought a holiday home in the country village of Fowey in Cornwall, a time that Daphne considered the highlight of her childhood. She ran the forests of Cornwall and played along the cove. Dona St. Columb's adventures as a cabin boy aboard a pirate ship in the novel Frenchman's Creek seem to be wish fulfillment for that shy girl who wanted to be a boy.

--Susan Doll

Producer: David Lewis
Director: Mitchell Leisen
Screenplay: Talbot Jennings based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier
Cinematography: George Barnes
Editor: Alma Macrorie
Art Direction: Ernst Fegte
Set Direction: Sam Comer
Costumes: Raoul Pene du Bois, executed by Mme. Karinski
Makeup: Wally Westmore
Music: Victor Young
Special Effects: Gordon Jennings with process shots by Farciot Edouart
Sound: Donald McKay and Don Johnson
Cast: Dona St. Columb (Joan Fontaine), The Frenchman (Arturo de Cordova), Lord Rockingham (Basil Rathbone), Lord Godolphin (Nigel Bruce), William (Cecil Kellaway), Harry St. Columb (Ralph Forbes), Edmond (Harald Ramond), Pierre Blanc (Billy Daniels), Lady Godolphin (Moyna MacGill), Henrietta (Patricia Barker), James (David James), Prue (Mary Field), Luc (Paul Oman), Thomas Eustick (Arthur Gould Porter), Robert Penrose (Evan Thomas), John Nankervis (Leslie Denison), Philip Rashleigh (Denis Green)
Frenchman's Creek

Frenchman's Creek

At first glance, Frenchman's Creek seems like an old-fashioned romantic adventure with glossy production values and melodramatic performances. Shot in the bright hues of Technicolor, the film makes ample use of glamorous costumes and large-scale sets to recreate 17th century England. However, the film represents the combination of two artistic visions, which suggests there is more than meets the eye. Daphne du Maurier wrote the original novel on which the film is based, and director Mitchell Leisen interpreted it for the big screen. Set in 1668, Frenchman's Creek follows the adventures of Dona St. Columb, an English aristocrat who grows weary of her husband's folly and the unwanted advances of Lord Rockingham. An elaborately coiffed Joan Fontaine stars as spirited Lady Dona. She retreats from the decadence of life in London to Navron, her country home in Cornwall. She discovers that her crafty caretaker, played by Cecil Kellaway, is covering for a local pirate, who has been staying at Navron in Dona's absence. The countryside is abuzz with the exploits of the pirate, known only as the Frenchman. Lord Godolphin, played by Nigel Bruce, excitedly tells Dona that "women sleep in fear of their lives--and not only their lives." Instead of feeling panic at the implications of his warning, Dona smiles. While strolling through the forest along the cove, she is kidnapped by one of the Frenchman's crew and taken to his ship. Dona enters his cabin, curious to find the handsome pirate preoccupied with sketching. Played by Mexican star Arturo de Cordova, the Frenchman is devilishly handsome and refined in taste and manner. Dona and the Frenchman discover they are kindred spirits. Both desire freedom: Dona wants to escape the confines of her aristocratic life; the Frenchman seeks the autonomy of the open sea. Smitten with the promise of romance and freedom, Dona dons trousers and a cap to join the pirate on his adventures as his "cabin boy." Upon her return to Navron, she discovers her husband has arrived, accompanied by the wicked Lord Rockingham. Dona fears her masquerade and secret adventures will be exposed. Frenchman's Creek was one of those productions where the behind-the-scenes turmoil overshadowed the final film. Budgeted at $3,600,000, it was Paramount's most expensive film to date, but the budget was clearly seen on the screen in the lavishness of the sets and costumes. It was shot on location in Mendocino, Albion, and Ft. Bragg, California, with a cast and crew of 250. A small tent city with its own water and sewer system was set up to feed and shelter cast and crew during the long days of shooting. Little River doubled as Frenchman's Creek, and a road had to be cut around a cliff in order to get to the location. The 17th-century village of Fowey was only one of the 46 sets that had to be constructed, while propmaster Dick Brandow and his nine-man team secured over 2000 historical props. Over 1000 of them were constructed by Paramount's prop shop, including a clavichord and a horse-drawn coach made of hand-tooled leather. Some of the rooms of the large sets were dressed with pieces purchased from William Randolph Hearst, known for his enormous collection of materials from historic homes. Hearst had been selling pieces from his collection since the late 1930s in order to pay off creditors. The Frenchman's ship, La Mouette, was recycled from one of the ships used in Cecil B. DeMille's Reap the Wild Wind. After building a new hull, the 110-foot ship was towed 35 miles to San Pedro Harbor then hauled 600 miles by barge to the location. After location shooting was complete, part of the ship was dismantled for dialogue scenes shot on the Paramount sound stages. (According to Internet sources, the rest of the ship was either set on fire by vandals or donated to the Coast Guard for target practice. Another story maintains that years later a local historian found the remains of the Hollywood ship and thought he had uncovered an authentic 17th century vessel.) Wally Westmore of the legendary makeup dynasty crafted 150 wigs for the film. Their lavishness was surpassed only by the costumes designed by Raoul Pene du Bois. Madame Karinska is credited with the construction of the costumes, but, according to production designer Ernst Fegte, director Mitchell Leisen had a lot to do with their look and creation. Leisen, a costumer and set designer in the silent era, knew how clothing was put together in the 17th century, and he assembled some of the costumes himself, changing the designs in the process. Fontaine's 18 costumes were the most elaborate, with some dresses measuring 600 inches around the bottom and weighing 30 pounds. . Leisen's experience as a costume and set designer influenced his work as a director. Detractors criticized his love of décor and visuals, claiming they took precedence over character and performance, but that is an unfair criticism. As with the work of all directors who are visually driven, there is a strategy and meaning to the visual design of Leisen's films. The color and style of Fontaine's costumes change from frilly, oversized gowns in sweet pastels to sleek dresses in deep reds and golds. The evolution in color and style parallels her passionate awakening with the Frenchman. Dona's doltish husband, Harry St. Columb (played by Ralph Forbes), is overdressed in loud tunics with pantaloon-like trousers, bringing to mind the look of a dandy or fool. The costume matches the character's frivolous, foppish persona. In contrast, the Frenchman's masculinity and Dona's attraction to him is signaled through his costume. The Frenchman is shirtless under a short-waisted coat, his hairy chest apparent and appealing to Dona as she gazes at him. . Unfortunately, Fontaine and de Cordova did not get along well, and they exhibit little chemistry onscreen. As a matter of fact, Fontaine alienated all the male actors in the cast, though perhaps it was because their collective male pride took a blow when she declared that the success of the film rested entirely on her shoulders. Fontaine also did not care for Leisen, dismissing him as a director "mostly known for his musicals," which is not true. Her disregard for the director seems ungracious considering he brought out a playful side to the actress, giving her character a sensuality that is uncharacteristic. Scholars and biographers have generally ignored Leisen, except for a 1973 biography by David Chierichetti. Inevitably, those who do examine his films bring up his bisexuality. It is always problematic and potentially misleading to look for clues to a director's personal life in his films, but Leisen did seem to understand the conventions for depicting gender roles, and he became adept at reversing them (Take a Letter, Darling; No Time for Love). Dona's desire to escape the confines of her role as an aristocrat's wife, combined with the freedom she experiences in her disguise as a male, can be interpreted as a commentary on the limitations of gender expectations. Likewise Dona's disguise as a cabin boy and her simultaneous passion of a highly masculinized pirate offers a provocative subtext. In this regard, Leisen's interpretation of the narrative is in sync with du Maurier's. The daughter of actor and matinee idol Gerald du Maurier, Daphne had expressed her desire to be a boy as a child. In adulthood, she experienced her own gender confusion. She eventually married despite attractions to both men and women, declaring regretfully that she had "put the boy in a box." When du Maurier was a child, the family bought a holiday home in the country village of Fowey in Cornwall, a time that Daphne considered the highlight of her childhood. She ran the forests of Cornwall and played along the cove. Dona St. Columb's adventures as a cabin boy aboard a pirate ship in the novel Frenchman's Creek seem to be wish fulfillment for that shy girl who wanted to be a boy. --Susan Doll Producer: David Lewis Director: Mitchell Leisen Screenplay: Talbot Jennings based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier Cinematography: George Barnes Editor: Alma Macrorie Art Direction: Ernst Fegte Set Direction: Sam Comer Costumes: Raoul Pene du Bois, executed by Mme. Karinski Makeup: Wally Westmore Music: Victor Young Special Effects: Gordon Jennings with process shots by Farciot Edouart Sound: Donald McKay and Don Johnson Cast: Dona St. Columb (Joan Fontaine), The Frenchman (Arturo de Cordova), Lord Rockingham (Basil Rathbone), Lord Godolphin (Nigel Bruce), William (Cecil Kellaway), Harry St. Columb (Ralph Forbes), Edmond (Harald Ramond), Pierre Blanc (Billy Daniels), Lady Godolphin (Moyna MacGill), Henrietta (Patricia Barker), James (David James), Prue (Mary Field), Luc (Paul Oman), Thomas Eustick (Arthur Gould Porter), Robert Penrose (Evan Thomas), John Nankervis (Leslie Denison), Philip Rashleigh (Denis Green)

Quotes

Trivia

The only film featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in which they do not play Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Notes

According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the APMAS Library, beginning in 1941, various producers, including David O. Selznick and Louis B. Mayer, submitted Daphne Du Maurier's novel, Frenchman's Creek, to the PCA for story approval. However, the PCA continually rejected the story because it concerned "adultery and illicit love without compensating moral values." Paramount, however, persevered despite changes demanded by the PCA, including the following: "Having in mind that Dona is a married woman, and the mother of two children, we shall have to insist that there be no physical contact between her and the Frenchman....Somewhere along the line, it will be necessary for you to get from Dona an affirmative, direct statement, delivered convincingly, that there has been no immoral relationship between her and the Frenchman." At the close of the film, when "Dona" is forced to choose between returning to her husband or leaving with the pirate, "The Frenchman" tells her, "Of course, if you choose to stay in England, there is nothing that has happened between us that would make your marriage a pretense."
       According to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, David O. Selznick suggested that Paramount use Stanley Cortez as photographer; however, George Barnes was assigned. Information in the Paramount Collection also revealed that Sir Cedric Hardwicke was originally cast as "William," and worked for several weeks on the film, and that Doris Lloyd was initially cast as "Lady Godolphin." News items reveal that leading actresses considered for the role of "Dona" were Merle Oberon, Irene Dunne, Vivien Leigh, Rosalind Russell and Katina Paxinou, and that Charles Boyer was considered for the male lead. Nigel Bruce was loaned by Universal Pictures, Harald Ramond was loaned by Charles Rogers Productions, and Basil Rathbone was loaned by M-G-M for this film.
       Frenchman's Creek was shot on location in Mendocino County, CA, at Albion Creek and Mallory's Cove. In her autobiography, Joan Fontaine notes that she was put on suspension at Selznick Productions because she initially refused to accept this role. The film's final cost was approximately $3,800,000, according to New York Times. The Variety review claims this budget was Paramount's biggest "in history." The Tidings, a weekly Catholic newspaper, called the screenplay "the most immoral...of the year." Frenchman's Creek won an Academy Award for Art Direction/Interior Decoration (color), Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegté/Sam Comer. Du Maurier's novel was filmed again in 1998, as a British telefilm starring Tara Fitzgerald and Anthony Delon; this version was first broadcast in the U.S. on April 25, 1999.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1944

Released in United States on Video November 1998

Released in United States 1944

Released in United States on Video November 1998